LAS VEGAS -- Head north from the Las Vegas Strip and eventually, the buildings, bright lights and billboards all seem to stop abruptly. Before you know it, you're on a wide-open road in the desert. And then, soon enough, a glimpse of green grass appears to the right.
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort, set on the Paiute Nation Reservation just minutes north of downtown, delivers a pure 54-hole golf experience that makes for the area's most all-encompassing getaway. It's a standalone golf facility (no resorts, slot machines or housing developments around). In a city where all sorts of distractions clamor for your attention, out here, golf -- and only golf -- is in full focus.
When golf course architect Pete Dye is at the helm, as he is with all 54 holes here, your full attention is a necessity.
The difference at Paiute compared to many other Las Vegas golf properties is clear from the get-go. There's more access to water and no housing or resort component. Fairways and landing zones are quite generous for desert golf, many of whose courses had a great deal of turf removal over the past decades or on more valuable acreage closer to town.
The Vegas golf landscape has changed in a big way in the past two decades. Courses have come and gone (and some have come back). Paiute suffered extensive damage in the summer of 2013 when a flash flood caused a major disruption, but today Paiute is as good as ever, having established itself as a reliable go-to destination for Vegas golfers.
In addition to 54 holes, Paiute has two driving ranges, with numerous practice greens at both. The large clubhouse is particularly suitable to large groups (it's the annual home of the Golf Channel Am Tour's Duel in the Desert, which takes place Super Bowl weekend) and countless outings.
It's a little ironic that Native American tribes have had such a huge influence in our country's golf scene, and it's usually with an accompanying casino. But at Paiute, in the gambling capital of the world, there is no casino or gaming of any kind (not even video poker at the bar). In fact, the Paiute nation made the bulk of its money in tobacco and cigar shops, and in the mid-1990s, as Las Vegas was set for a golf boom, decided to try its hand in the golf business.
As the Vegas area's only 54-hole facility, Paiute is a great fit for a daylong golf outing for groups small and large. All green fees come with unlimited range balls and use of multiple short-game greens, so you can come early and work on your game.
Paiute encourages long golf days with the Golfapalooza package. It's the most popular package here and includes 36 holes, lunch, unlimited range balls and 50 percent off rental clubs (check out Paiute's seasonal rates here). For those who would rather spread out their golf, they offer a "Bounceback Special" (20 percent off current rates to return to the course after your first day).
Paiute's Wolf, Sun Mountain and Snow Mountain Courses
The Wolf Course is the newest of the three Dye designs at Paiute. It opened to great fanfare as being one of the West's longest courses with a championship yardage of more than 7,600 yards, plus an island-green par 3 resembling Dye's 17th at TPC Sawgrass. But on closer look, it's actually regarded as the most playable of the three courses here, thanks to larger fairways and greens that are on average a few paces larger than the other two courses, Sun Mountain and Snow Mountain. Those courses don't have that same eye-opening tip-tee yardage, but both can still stretch to more than 7,100 yards. The original course, Snow Mountain, sports seven holes with water and some say the best collection of par 3s on the property. On Sun Mountain, more sand and some doglegs make it a real shotmaker's course.
"The facility is a true treat for the serious golfer," wrote RobKempinski, a low-handicapper from Florida, after his round on the Wolf. "Well marked course, GPS on carts, unlimited range balls, multiple practice ranges, nice layout, good food amenities. ... My favorite in Vegas."
Currently, Paiute occupies three of the top four spots in Golf Advisor's Las Vegas Destination Guide according to users. The Wolf checks in at no. 1, though in our most recent edition of the Power Rankings, which looks back at the top-rated courses of the week, Sun Mountain was on top.
So which is the best for your group? It may take a Golfapalooza or two to find out.
This content was sponsored by Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.